Everyday is a good day for soup, which means comforting flavors in one steaming bowl. Soup has always been an easy way to prepare a delicious meal with a combination of vegetables, broth, beans and sometimes meat. And cooking with lentils is a delicious way to go because they are loaded with protein and cook quickly.
Lentils are a legume and come in a different colors, shapes and varietals. In this recipe for Italian Lentil Soup, I prefer to use small brown or green lentils, which cook up in a short amount of time without losing their density. The other combination of flavors in the soup, come from the fresh fennel, onions and sometimes chicken sausage.
I truly love this recipe and it is always a good idea to double it and freeze a little for later. Italian Lentil Soup is a meal in itself and really hits the spot on a cooler evening with a slice of rustic bread, good butter and a glass of Syrah.
1 1/3 cups small brown or green lentils
1 white onion
1 fennel bulb
1 cup diced butternut squash
3 cooked spicy chicken sausages, optional if going meatless
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1. In a mesh strainer, rinse the lentils and drain. Set aside.
2. Dice the onions and butternut squash and slice the fennel and sausages. Reserve some fennel fronds for later.
3. In a small stockpot, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and place over medium heat. Add the onions and fennel and saute for 3 minutes.
4. Then, add the squash, sausage, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Toss in the rinsed lentils.
5. Pour in the chicken broth and stir to combine. Lower the heat to low and place the lid a jar on top of the pot.
6. Cook the soup for 30-40 minutes, just until the squash and lentils are fork tender, but not mushy.
7. Ladle the soup into bowls and add a small piece of fennel frond on top. Enjoy!